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On Leaving School With Four GCSEs And Doing What You Love

by Jessica Amey

I posted a status on my personal Facebook yesterday about how much things had changed in my life since I left school having only taken four GCSEs.

When I was 16 I had absolutely no interest in education or what I would do in later life, I didn’t know who I was and certainly wasn’t happy within myself so all my time was spent focusing on a boy who spent his time focusing on sleeping with as many girls as he could. I felt so different from all of my friends who were making plans to go to college and university. It just wasn’t something I even thought about.
Growing up I had changed schools about once a year and on average we moved house 1-3 times a year, a lot of the time living in holiday cottages which was obviously pretty unsettling. By the time I started secondary school I had missed huge chunks of the curriculum as every school did things differently. I went from being in the top sets to the bottom, something which really didn’t help in me losing all interest. This system is such a terrible way of doing things, it’s not that people aren’t as ‘bright’ as others, more that they have no interest in those subjects. I can still remember my science classes, the boys trying to snort chemicals or smash thermometers, the teacher desperately trying to teach us despite the fact no-one was listening. All the while I knew my friends were in a different class, one for the ‘clever’ people. None of us had a choice in whether we wanted to be in those science classes but had we had one then I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have been sat there, the boys would have been outside playing football or in the DT rooms making something and the girls would have been doing those things with the boys or anything else they were interested in, some of them might have been watching the boys because who says there is anything wrong with wanting to get married and have children as your main aim in life? Instead those many hours were wasted for everyone.

 By the time I was 15 I had started skipping school or just refusing to go and I wasn’t doing any work or revision for my upcoming GCSEs so we made the decision with the teachers that I would only take four: Science (D), Maths (D), English Lit (B) / Lang (C) and French (C). As it turns out I didn’t do *too* badly considering I didn’t do any revising but it wasn’t enough to get onto any A Level courses at college which to be honest I no doubt would have dropped out of anyway. I signed up to a course that I had zero interest in just because my friend was doing it but ended up quitting after a few weeks and there started my years of working in jobs that I had no passion for. I worked in cheese factories, soft play centres, dog charities, call centres, cafes and pubs, it’s not that I think there is anything wrong with those jobs, everyone is different and some people really enjoy them but they just weren’t right for me. I think my record for the shortest time spent in a job was 3 hours, I literally just walked out.

 Things carried on like that until after I had Cherry, suddenly I developed the self-confidence that had been missing for years, or even my whole life. I’m not sure exactly what it was about becoming a parent that made me that way and I know for others it’s the opposite but I suddenly felt I had achieved something amazing and that made me want to continue. I finally passed my driving test and completed my first ever college course, a diploma in massage therapy. It was with the aim of teaching baby massage but I never got that far because a few months before I started the course I started blogging and by the time I’d finished the course I had started to earn money through it.
Since then things have grown and I can now call blogging my job. I have two websites and I easily spend 25+ hours a week working on them.

I would say I was lucky but I don’t really see it that way, it was more just a case of working really hard at something that it just so happened I loved. When I started blogging it was a hobby, for over a year I posted regularly and spent lots of time on social media for the pure reason that I loved it, I had no idea you could earn money through it and it does still feel like a dream come that I can.

And the best thing about it is that the fact I had zero qualifications didn’t matter in the slightest, I just wish I had known this when I was a lot younger. There is a common misconception in this country that to succeed in life you need to go to university, and sure that is the best route for some people. Take my sister for instance, she is so academic and after doing her first science based degree then went on to medicine school and is not far off starting work as a junior doctor, she never could have done that without going to university but so many people go for the wrong reasons and end up in so much debt when they really didn’t need to.

The advice I will be giving to my kids is that you don’t have to follow the route everyone thinks you should take, in this day and age there are so many possibilities for people to make a career by thinking outside of the box or by using the internet / social media to their advantage. Singers and songwriters can build up massive followings on Youtube, artists can showcase their work on a blog or social media platform, writers can write, dancers can dance and creators can create.

You can think up a unique idea and build a following on Instagram, the idea can be as wacky as your imagination can allow and it can take off. Any teenager out there sitting in their room feeling like their is no hope can do this. There are people making millions of pounds a year by filming themselves opening chocolate eggs!! You don’t even need a skill, just an idea.

If you put yourself out there then you never know what opportunities it can lead to and that is why I love the internet so much.

Yesterday I opened my mail to a magazine that I have been featured in, a double page spread all about me. It really hit me just how much things had changed when I saw it. I might not be the best writer and I’m in doubt there will be mistakes in my grammar but at the end of the day that really doesn’t matter. I’ve found something I feel passionately about and I work really hard at it.

That’s something that anyone can do, regardless of how many GCSEs you passed!


And if you would like to see how I made the doll’s furniture in this feature then it’s in this month’s DoCrafts Creativity magazine 🙂

Depending on what you want to do for a career, having the right qualifications can be important.  As an employer you can use clearcheck.co.uk to run checks on applicants. 

‘Collaborative Post’

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